17 October 2009

More fish

Last night one of the most lovely gifts presented to Bishop Henderson (as opposed to the useful, like a fishing rod, reel and tackle box) was an icon written by an Upper South Carolina artist. As retired Bishop Duvall presented the original to +Dorsey, there was an unusual sound behind the stage and a large version of the icon, featuring what else but fish?, unrolled. It formed the backdrop for the remainder of the evening and today's worship.

We began the day with the Liturgy of the Word, including dozens of church banners, several colorful streamers and red-stoled clergy in procession. At the peace we moved into a late morning workshop, followed by lunch and the afternoon workshop before regathering for the Liturgy of the Table at the end of the day. I made this image when I paused in the worship space (which was the banquet space last night) before going to lunch. (Too bad I can't seem to hold the camera straight on vertical shots.)

I'm home now, the two hour drive featuring more rain, and have enjoyed hearing Tal's tales from his chilly early morning fishing here in Edgefield County with his son. The weekend's theme is at my every turn! I do wish, though, I were one of the ones wetting a hook.

16 October 2009


Tonight's dinner and "roast" honoring Upper South Carolina's bishop who will retire at the end of this calendar year was simply extraordinary. Yes, it was long, but it's been 15 years since we've said goodbye to a bishop. Three hours might not be too much to ask. And, truth be told, Dorsey Felix Henderson Jr has lovingly held this diocese together through a very difficult few years. He deserved every loing minute and then some. Dinner for for than 500 was delightful, tasty and served efficiently by the First Carolina Center staff. The big surprise was the appearance of our presiding bishop and her husband and the best moment was the Skype appearance of Bishop Henderson's now adult-with-two-children foster son. Ah, the tears did flow. Two little voices calling out "Hi Uncle Felix" was almost too much to bear.

This is a closeup taken as the evening was ending, the theme of which was fishing. (I was part of a presentation by all DEC members past and present, an unrehearsed singing extravaganza based on the mission of the diocese combined with new words to the "Row, row, row your boat" melody. Be glad you missed that!) The centerpieces featured bowls of water, filled with shells, candles and glittery little fish forms all on a circle of mirror. Lovely. Enchanting, even.

But,it's almost 11:00 and I'm exhausted. Enough celebration for now.

Table settings

The setting up process for tonight's banquet was underway when I arrived at the Carolina First Center this morning. It was a slow process that went on all day. During the lunch break I cut through the banquet hall to visit the Trinity Cathedral Bookstore display in the exhibition space (without benefit of money, check book or credit card, by the way) and was stopped momentarily at the vision created by the sea of crystal and white table linen in the rather dark room.

By tonight it should be rather spectacular.


What a day! -- and, it's only 4PM. I walked on this Friday morning from the hotel through a grey mist, the sun completely hidden. Again, as was true the two precious times I have approached and entered the Carolina First Center (it having had a different name on both those occasions), I was impressed and curious. Impressed at the setting, the outside view -- plantings, elevations, expanses of glass, and the inside space -- generous hallways and lobbies, countless meeting rooms and long escalators. It speaks to me of optimism, of wealth. I can only imagine (this is the curious part) the spectrum of activities that present themselves to the public under the building's vast roof during a year's time.

Diocesan business was just that, report after report, agenda item after agenda item checked off the sheet of paper in my lap. The morning session ran enough ahead of schedule that the bishop moved several items from the afternoon, and we cleared them up before noonday prayers and lunch. I forced myself, as we were gavelled back to order after lunch and the bishop began his annual -- and last, and emotional -- address, wondering if there might be time for a walk between the end of the session and dinner. The Greenville municipal airport is immediately adjacent, after all. It's OK to dream.

But, the day wasn't -- and never is -- all business. As Bishop Henderson likes to say, diocesan convention is really a family reunion. At every turn familiar faces and beloved people appeared, a phenomenon that went on all day. These encounters -- loud, animated, joy-filled, each one cut short by another -- have reminded me clearly of the danger inherent in my personality, that danger being the tendency to go alone, the way I have of cutting myself off -- oftentimes not deliberately, but sometimes on purpose -- from people. Now, I can only stand so much, introverted as I am, but some balance is in order. I have missed some of these people very much and feel a sense of renewal at the reconnection.

And, and ... following the bishop's address, the Search Committee revealed to the convention its slate of five candidates who will stand for election to be the 8th bishop of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina, complete with two minute videos in which each individual introduced himself to the diocese. It was a great moment; our work as a committee is finished.

Now, to finish up that golf tournament. Next Friday's the day.

After that? A reunion of my own -- with Tal, with Whitby and Belle, with home. Can hardly wait!


Last night when I called Tal to say goodnight, he asked me to call him early this morning -- which I did. At 6:30. Well, he said early. Our conversation was sweet and brief, since he had a bit more sleeping to do. But, his parting comment was this: "Remember, a lot of love is radiating from here to you. Two dogs and a man." Well, if that isn't a nice way to start the day, I don't know what is. Except maybe being at home.

By my calculations, in the past month I've been away from home nine nights (and the better part of 15 days). Some prioritizing is in order, I'd say. Having the statistics for the next month drastically different would be a pleasure. And, making them different will be my goal.

But, first ... convention.

15 October 2009

From the Phoenix

I'm safely in my room at The Phoenix, "Greenville's Inn," for the start of diocesan convention at the Carolina First Center in the morning. The emphasis on safely is deliberate, the rain between Edgefield and Greenwood a deluge (with the rutted road holding lots of water) and between Greenwood and Greenville steady for most of the miles. I found myself concentrating on simply getting here. That focused state of mind, now that I'm settled (with no need to go out, having brought my supper with me), has given way to gratitude and gentle fatigue.

True, tomorrow is the culmination of the Search Committee's work: the presentation of the slate of nominees for Upper South Carolina's 8th bishop. Work continues from tomorrow, of course, but it will be the Transition Committee taking charge to plan the walk-abouts, the election, a move for someone and the consecration. My part now will be simply to participate. No more travelling, no more minute-taking, no more evaluating on behalf of the whole.

That said, tonight's fatigue actually springs from the events of the day. I made it to two meetings during the morning -- an All God's Creatures board meeting to report on the golf tournament and a pastoral call to a member of my former mission congregation. And, Tal and I enjoyed a quick and light lunch together before I finished packing and began my rainy drive. During the afternoon I missed a meeting of the Village Gardeners. Can anyone, including me, believe I'm a member of a garden club?! And, as I type, I'm missing an "After Hours" at the gallery in Ridge Spring, an event sponsored by the Saluda Chamber of Commerce to introduce their membership to individual businesses or concerns in the county. Members of the Art Association of Ridge Spring have worked themselves very hard in order to be ready to receive their Saluda County guests and I hope it's going off well.

For me now it's my little supper, a book and what I hope's going to be a great night's sleep. I want to be rested for what will likely be an emotional, albeit satisfying, tomorrow.